A lot of times, I have the impulse to go up to someone and ask them something, or just to strike up a friendly conversation. But really, all it ends up as, is just a mere impulse. It’s the sad truth. I’m just not that courageous enough to talk to a stranger.
I suppose it’s an Asian thing? We grew up being taught not to talk to strangers, and we never truly understand the implications of our elders’ words until the day we want to start getting out there and talking to more people.
I was at the park one day on the exercise equipment when an old lady sat beside me and started on the bicycle machine. As she took her seat, she smiled at me and you know, it’s impossible not to return a smile to a friendly, old lady exercising in the park. At that instant, I was so tempted to say hi, and maybe ask a little about how her day went and all the nitty-gritty she went through in the day. I swear, the words were already at my throat! But no, I didn’t say anything and we each continued quietly on our own equipment.
After school last week, there was this guy on crutches waiting for the bus and I stood nearby waiting too. I looked at his heavily-bandaged foot and crutches, only imagining what could have happened to warrant such fanfare. Hey, what happened to your leg? Do you need help? Let me help you with your bag. What do you study? Where are you from? Questions sprinted through my head but all I managed was to continue staring at his leg, then his face, then his leg, face, leg, face…
It’s not easy for me to approach people. But I suppose I’m trying a little harder everyday – smiling at random strangers, sharing a little joke with another customer in the McDonalds queue, letting my guard down a little more…
But hey, if it ever gets too hard to speak, a smile would do. Sometimes I think about the people whom I’ve smiled at, and how their day progressed, and whether they, too, are thinking about a stranger they’ve smiled at that day.
A friend once told me, A smile is universal.